I say lemon, you say squares!

That was the subject line in an email I sent out to some of my coworkers yesterday afternoon. I received this email on Monday afternoon from my husband with his coworker, Trevor’s, name in the subject line:

It’s a long story but basically, Trevor knows that I a) can bake and b) love a good challenge. We’ve dueled it out in Bubble Spinner as seen here, here, and here. So perhaps it was time for another challenge? I was totally up for it.

I found this recipe from the Martha Stewart website for creamy lemon squares and decided to give it a try on Tuesday night. It was much easier than I thought it would be and required so few ingredients, so I made two. Tony took one into to work that was cut into 16 pieces, and I took one to work that was cut into 36 small, bite-sized pieces.

I think I can venture to say that it was a huge hit! I was told that Trevor LOVED them (yes, you read that, in all caps!) and that he ate four of them (that detail is a little disturbing, I’ll admit). And they disappeared in my office too.

It really helped to line the pan with parchment paper because it made taking them out really easy.

They turned out taller than typical lemon bars, and people said that they had a creamy consistency much like key lime pie. [Side note: no, I can’t eat these. At least, we don’t know if I’m really allergic to lemons because I haven’t tested them yet but I didn’t really want to take a chance. I tasted a tiny piece that fell off the knife and it was quite yummy.] The recipe called for sweetened condensed milk and if you ask me, anything with sweetened condensed milk tastes yummy!

I think the biggest compliment I received about them was from one of my coworkers who said he didn’t normally like lemon squares. I convinced him to try one (using my, “They’re only small squares, it’s just one bite …” plea) and I think he said I’ve converted him to liking them. That’s awesome!

So here’s the recipe for those of you that wish to whip up a batch (again, an easy-peasy recipe!). And just as an FYI, it took 4 lemons for me to get 3/4 cup of lemon juice.

Creamy Lemon Squares

Ingredients (makes 16):

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
– 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
– 4 large egg yolks [oh crap! see comment below!!]
– 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
– 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.

2. Make crust: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour, and mix on low just until combined. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

4. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares, and dust with confectioners sugar.

Okay, so um, I just realized that I made a mistake. I do this a lot where I read through a recipe way too quickly (i.e. not enough attention to details!). It calls for 4 egg yolks and I just realized that I used 4 whole eggs. That might explain why one of my coworkers said that “the other lemon bars you see at the grocery store are so yellow … makes me wonder what else they put in them.” Alas, it’s probably because mine were so light from too much egg! Oh well. I hope they weren’t too eggy!

Oh and one more note: I put the confectioners sugar on in the morning but then by the time I brought them out of the bag in the middle of the day it all had been absorbed into the lemon. So even though the directions don’t call for it, I’d suggest storing them in the refrigerator until you need them because the surface gets a little slick at room temperature. (Although now I’m wondering if it was because my filling was too custard/pudding-like with the extra egg whites? Hmmmm …)


2 thoughts on “I say lemon, you say squares!

  1. Look really good. Must taste great if someone compared them to Key Lime Pie (I love Key Lime Pie, but that is NOT a veiled attempt to get you to make one). What is interesting is that I just started reading the egg section of "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee. Sort of the science behind food. Pretty good and I'm learning a lot. If you haven't read it, you might like it also (big book though, not exactly a good beach book).

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